Trends affect architecture and the way residential and commercial buildings take shape, just as they influence automobile design and apparel styles. Lifestyle changes are reflected in our things and buildings — those changes sometimes just take a little longer to become mainstream.
Today there is little doubt that the key concepts of function and sustainability are high on the list of priorities in architecture and home design. In some quarters, being green is a greater good than being beautiful!
A Leader on the Scene
In Boston, in particular, the trends have an effect on current practices and planned developments. Higher energy costs, stricter environmental requirements, engineering practices, building codes and affordability guidelines continue to affect the way we view new construction, the way we react to living and working spaces, and the future we build for ourselves.
Green is a way of life in Boston, and Boston is viewed as a leader on the scene, the first major metropolitan area to codify green building requirements. It was stipulated when then-Mayor Thomas Menino formed the Green Building Task Force in 2003, and reaffirmed four years later when a set of green initiatives was adopted. “High-performance green building is good for your wallet. It is good for the environment and it is good for people,” said Mayor Menino at the time.
That has proved to be true in this city, with the result that all new development focuses on sustainable practices and contributes to the local ethos. It is not only a requirement, but a celebration here in Boston.
“Article 37” of the Building Code
While sustainability practices are still debated and sometimes under fire in other parts of the country, the governing code in Boston was adopted in 2007. It is still considered a “ground-breaking” document, and requires that all buildings over 50,000 square feet earn a substantial number of LEED-New Construction Points. Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, the certification stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and addresses a variety of benchmarks.
Points are awarded for performance in categories of energy, water use and greenhouse gas emissions, for both new construction and renovation projects. There are four levels of LEED Certification, based on the number of points earned. In Boston, the city requires developers to earn 26 points, but also requires four additional points in areas that address specific city priorities of historic preservation, transportation, energy and groundwater recharge.
Local city officials perform their own inspections rather than requiring third-part certification.
Benefits for Local Residents
Boston buildings are not only esthetically pleasing and energy efficient, but local programs such as the E+ Green Building Program serve to demonstrate the feasibility of “regenerative multi-unit residential buildings,” bringing a new spirit of innovation and achievement to older Boston neighborhoods.
Climate change, economics, design sensibilities, integration of the built environment with nature, universal design principles, and numerous other factors are all part of the “Boston Book of Building.” We see that as one of the great pluses of being a part of the current construction boom in downtown Boston. Almost every day we have the opportunity to interact with planners, architects and designers, contractors and owners who influence the work spaces and the residential communities in our area. At NEBS, we are as concerned as our city leaders about this great city, with its energy and transportation needs, its history and its future.
We are proud of our record and of our service to the local community, and we are immensely supportive of the green efforts that mark this city’s commitment to responsible growth and development.